Supply chain has become part of conversations in both the boardroom and at the dinner table, but there is another topic that is sitting front and center today: customer experience.
What isn’t being talked about nearly enough, is the customer experience in the realm of logistics technologies. When you work with a broker or a 3PL, customer service is front and center. It may be the only other metric, subjective as it can be, that is important next to cost savings. When you make the decision to put a technology provider at the center of your supply chain ecosystem, it can be difficult to know what you can expect and what you should expect. Tech companies are offering you a product – not just a service. And I don’t know about you, but when Facebook crashed not so long ago and I reached out for support… crickets. The same can be said for most “tech-first” companies. Think about it… when was the last time you bought a smart phone that came with a manual or a help desk phone number? When you signed up for an account with Twitter, did they send you a user manual or give you someone to call if you didn’t understand something or weren’t getting what you thought you should? No! Of course not. And these things are true whether you are buying as a consumer or as a business.
But trying to implement that level of separation and assumption into the transportation and logistics space is not only unlikely… but dangerous.
In the logistics and transportation tech space, we cannot afford to separate the product from the service. There are too many variables and too many folks relying on technology to keep the foundations of their business running smoothly. Depending on the season and the internal rumblings of a company, the metrics, reports and deliverables that are important to a given stakeholder can shift abruptly. Here are 3 things you should be able to count on from your transportation and logistics technology providers – whether that is WMS, TMS, or some other ad hoc solution that doesn’t yet have an acronym (and you know how much we love our acronyms).
- Data Transparency. You generate a lot of data when you execute the tasks of your supply chain. But whose data is it? It’s yours! You shouldn’t have to reach out to someone or pay extra to generate a report of your data. Maybe the specific chart or visualization isn’t available turnkey – but your data shouldn’t be held hostage by your provider. If it is, you should be asking what it is the provider doesn’t want you to see. Blink markups? Service failures? Or maybe they don’t even keep tabs on your data? Either way, that data is yours and you should be able to access it with ease.
- Dedicated Support. Are you being passed to a help desk or dialing a generic number when you need support? That doesn’t work! Your business is too complex and you can’t possibly expect a random person to pull up a database of notes and be able to help you efficiently address a challenge. You need a dedicated support system made up of professionals who actually know the tech and can provide answers quickly.
- Supply Chain Expertise. The service that your logistics technology company provides shouldn’t just be a software help desk. Look for a company that can help guide you in best practices throughout your supply chain. This should be a partnership that strengthens your ability to make critical, strategic decisions. Whether it’s deciding where your newest DC will be based on your transportation network or executing an RFP, you need a team that understands your industry.